Thursday, January 26, 2017

Thursday Thoughts: Life After Bloguary


This has been a super busy month for me so far, but I have to admit, I've loved it. I've made some new blog friends, found some other great new blogs to follow (which I'll be telling you about next week), had fun with exploring sponsorships and affiliate marketing, and created a TON of new content for this blog. And with all that going on, my oldest daughter turned thirteen, and my youngest had a minor but worrisome surgical procedure - the results of which we won't know until late next month.

I've still been attending therapy every week (except one), and adjusting to life as a single mom keeps getting better - but the truth is, life gets hard sometimes and in the midst of everything changing the way it has, something had to take a back burner.

My fiction writing stalled. I'm about 20-25% into a novel called Still Fighting For Freedom, and I haven't opened the file to work on it at all this month. It wasn't that I didn't want to, but with managing daily blogging, promoting each days posts, keeping up with my Patreon writing, and keeping my personal life in order, there simply wasn't time or energy to focus on a story that takes so much from me emotionally.

For those of you who might be new to this blog and don't yet know me as an author, Still Fighting For Freedom will be the second book in the Freedom Series, a series about a woman escaping a violent marriage. In the first book, you see the end of Christine Matthews's marriage to her husband Malachi, a man she fell for and married in a time of emotional weakness. The opening scenes are brutal - but they're an honest portrait of what domestic violence looks like, right on down to the "ridiculousness" of what led to those opening scenes.

I've had people tell me that they couldn't read Fighting For Freedom at all, or that they had to put it down for a while to take breaks because the content was so deep - or so personal. And that means everything to me as an author, because I so desperately want this story to be deep and to have a strong, irreversible impact on the people who read it. I want it to be hard to read, hard to take, hard to process ... hard to imagine.

Because it is hard to live in. Because it is hard to escape from. Because no one believes you. Because "someone else has it worse." Because "it's not really that bad." Because no one understands until they've been there. Because sometimes, even people who have been there no longer "get it" or can no longer understand what's it like.

Because in researching that book to be sure all the police work and terms were correct, I could only get two Knox County officers to talk to me - and even those only spoke with me under a promise of anonymity.

Why?

Because they don't want the world at large to know how helpless they feel in the face of this epidemic. Because they don't want the world at large talking about how hard it is to stop this. Because they don't want abusers taking advantage of how easy it is to get away with, because they don't want victims to stay too afraid to come forward.

Because no one understands until they've been there. 

I thought I understood - because I have been there. While I have kept many very personal stories to myself over the years, a great deal of the abuse I suffered as a child is no longer secret. The abuse I watched my mother suffer ... is no longer secret. And although to the best of my knowledge, the man who destroyed my mother's mind and body is now walking free in the streets again, WE ARE NO LONGER AFRAID. Fighting For Freedom was my way of speaking out, for the scared little girl I once was, for the wife I watched my mother struggle to be, for the graphic scenes of abuse that I learned at an early age - not from books or movies, but from the corner I would hide in as a child, watching my mother succumb to violent hands and uncontrollable outbursts.

And because of its personal nature, that book was hard to write. I drew from, and even directly used, memories from my own childhood - using things I saw to create the images portrayed, placing myself in my mother's shoes, imagining her fear, her terror ... and the spark of ferocity that made her choose life.

There are children in Fighting For Freedom, though they are not Christine's. In the Safe House she's taken to after those brutal opening scenes, Christine meets a woman named Naomi, a young single mother. Naomi has two children, a son and a daughter, both as damaged by their exposure to an abusive home as my older brother and I were. And while Christine's early experience is an echo of my mother's past weaknesses, Naomi is ... something of a tribute to her strength.

Still Fighting For Freedom continues Christine's story, but it's different - different because now I'm drawing from my own experiences, and while in many ways that makes the writing easier, in other ways it has become harder than anything I've ever done. I'm only a quarter of the way in, and I've written myself into a panic attack twice, cried more than I care to admit, and spent days in anguish, writing passages over and over to get them just right.

I want so desperately for this book to succeed, for this story to be told, for women all over the world who are just like Christine to be inspired and empowered. I want it so bad I can taste it.

Truthfully, the fear of this book not being everything I want it to be is probably one of the most terrifying things in my life right now - I feel like I've always been a writer, and I'll never do anything half as well as I do this. In general, I am a confident writer, and I believe with all of my heart that it's what I was born to do. But this story is just ... so personal. My stepfather wasn't the only violent, unpredictable person in my life. There were many more, and as I draw Christine's story out of the very depths of my own heart, I find sometimes that there's entirely too much raw material to choose from.

I think Bloguary was really just as much about challenging myself and growing this blog as I said it was. I think it was just as much about creating content and exercising my short-form non-fiction writing ability as I said it was.

But I think, too, that I was hiding from Christine. I think I wasn't ready to dig that deep, to pull that much from my soul, to splatter so many pages with the blood of my own experience.

Where I am in the story, Christine is struggling to rebuild after having to start over with virtually nothing. I have done that before - and I am in the sad process of doing it now. And because it is a novel meant to empower and inspire, she will succeed. But every word of her story, every step in her journey ... is coated with my own self-doubt. Will I succeed? Will I find my own way? Will I find my own kind of freedom again, after spending so many years without it?

I don't know.

And that's why it's been so hard to write this part of her story, the part where she's strong enough to win, the part where everything that's been so broken for her finally falls into place, the part where she becomes less of what I've been or what I am, and more of who I want someday for all women to believe they can be.

Bloguary let me run from her, let me hide from her story, let me pretend for a while that it wasn't still lurking inside me, writing itself in the dark places of my mind while I ignored it. But Bloguary is almost over, and I will have met the challenge. I will have accomplished the goal.

So what's next?

In February, I will turn 33 years old. In February, I will pull back only slightly from this blog, writing every other day instead of every day - while still maintaining the weekly themes and the same general lifestyle concept that I've become so comfortable with. I will continue to work with affiliates and I will continue to court sponsorships. I will unbox and review my very first Influenster VoxBox, which I'm excited enough about to be watching the mail every day like a child.

And I will make a serious, concerted effort to finish Still Fighting For Freedom. I promise - myself.

* If you enjoyed this post, please remember to share it so that others can enjoy it too - it means more to me than you could ever know, and it's super easy.


Questions For The Comments Section:

  • Have you read Fighting For Freedom? (If you haven't but you'd like to, the book is available in e-book and paperback - and the e-book is only $2.99! Click here for purchase links, and get yourself a copy of this great book!)
  • What did you think of Bloguary? I know it isn't over yet, but have you been following along? And if so, what posts did you like best?
  • Bloguary isn't over yet - have a great post idea you'd like me to write? Leave it in the comments below!

58 comments:

  1. I haven't read Fighting for Freedom mainly because I grew up in a household of domestic violence and was the kid hiding in the corner. I was the kid who at 15 finally convinced my Mom to leave my abusive Dad only to have her family talk her into going back when he was put in the hospital for PTSD. My Mom is 71 years old and still living with her abuser who did get better after he got help with his PTSD but unfortunately now that he is 72 while he hasn't become physically abusive he has become verbally abusive and now she doensn't feel like she can leave due to how he messed up her finances over the years and she is dependent on his money. Even though I've told her repeatly I would help her get a divorce and make sure she has money to live. When I went to see a counselor years ago for the PTSD I got from Desert Storm the counselor told me after talking about my childhood that I already had PTSD and going to war just added on it. Luckily I've learned to live with much better than my Dad did but then i know he saw a lot more horror in Vietman than I did. It's still no excuse to be the way he is to my Mom. A few weeks ago I told him exactly what I thought of him that while I loved him for being my Dad I hate the person he is and how he treats my Mom. I also told him if she called me and said I'm done come help me leave him I would in a heartbeat. Since then he's been a little better but no telling how long it will last as he's just that man.
    I do hope to read your book but I know it's gonna be a rough read for me as domestic violence in books is a trigger of mine so I have to tread lightly reading stuff like that
    I've enjoyed your blog and while I can't tell you which has been my favorite I've enjoyed reading your journey.
    I love hearing about what your girls are reading it thrills me they love to read so maybe a blog on what they've been reading so far this year?
    Keep your chin up youve got this and if no one has told you I am. I'm proud of you for taking care of yourself and showing your daughters you can leave and make it.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your story with me, Karen - it means the world to me, and I'm so glad to know that my blog is helpful to someone. I think of you with each and every post on this topic, with gratitude for your service and empathy for your struggle.

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  2. I haven't read Fighting For Freedom, but it sounds like something I'd enjoy. I might have to pick it up.

    I so love when I get VoxBoxes. They are so fun!

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    1. Thanks! If you do decide to read it, if love your feedback! And I definitely love getting VoxBoxes already, too. I am already anxious for my next one to come.

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  3. I have not read Fighting for Freedom but it sounds like I would enjoy it. It's a topic that people need to understand more from experience than just their mere logic which sometimes can be incredibly surface level.

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    1. I agree. I think it's too often that we try and boil it down to logistics, but there's so much more to it than that.

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  4. I haven't read Fighting For Freedom either but I'm definitely going to check it out. I never grew up in a physical abusive environment but there was a lot of emotional abuse for sure.

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    1. You might still relate to the feelings then. Abuse is abuse, and it doesn't have to be violent in order to leave scars.

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  5. I have not read Fighting for Freedom before but it sounds soo good. I would love to read and hear about this. Thank you for sharing.

    xo,
    Modeline

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    1. Of course, and thanks for your interest!

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  6. I haven't read it either, but it sounds like something I would like. Can't wait!

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    1. You don't have to - the first book is out right now!

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  7. Sounds like a great book. Hope that the energy and inspiration for your writing will continue to flow. Blogging is a commitment and consistency is key - your passion for writing will fuel you to continue in this journey!

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  8. Sounds like an awesomebook! I have not read either.

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  9. I haven't read it yet, but I will. I am into a real life story novel because I can get a lot of inspiration, knowledge and I am learning to cherish and value life to whatever it can offer me. Just be strong, face your fears and don't forget to lean on Him because there is a reason for everything and I believe that there is a rainbow after that storm in your life.

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    1. Well I am definitely ready for some rainbows.

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  10. Blogging is an outlet for me, I'm glad that you enjoy it as much as I do. I think it's nice that you've shared your story through writing a book, it's one of the best ways to let people understand what you've been through as an individual. I would love to read it someday soon.

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  11. Very interesting read. It's hard to expose our past demons, kudos to you for being so brave :)

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    1. It is definitely hard. But if just by surviving, I can inspire someone else to survive too, then it's worth the journey. Hiding it won't solve the problem.

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  12. It seems that you like the whole serie of books, I like reading since I was child but in French language and this kind of books is reminding a French serie book that I read when I was young, same kind, I will take a look on this ones it will be fun to read them in English :)

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    1. Well I definitely like these - I wrote them!

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  13. I also have not read Fighting For Freedom. But it is something I am going to have to pick up at the library. You are very brace to share your story and let others know that they are not alone in this fight.

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  14. As a writer as well I know how important it can be to take a little step back when working on difficult material. Sometimes we need that emotional break and it sounds like blogging was a great way to keep writing while still giving yourself the space you needed.

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    1. It seems to have worked out well too. I just needed to decompress a little bit.

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  15. I did a 'bloguary' type thing when I first started my blog. And I said it was to get content, but it was really to hide from real life and what else I was doing. I understand what you're going through.

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    1. Thank you! It worked well for me, both in allowing me to take a break from my book and everything it made me feel (especially in correlation to my real life), and in helping me to build my blog up a little bit more. I hope to continue the new growth as the year goes on, and I'm already thinking I'll do Bloguary again in 2018.

      Actually, I've been tinkering with the idea of doing Blogtober, but don't tell anyone yet. *wink*

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  16. I lived it - domestic violence - and I can say I understand it very well. That's why I almost vomitted today when I read an article that Russia has decriminalize violence against women! Men in that country are now permitted to beat their women once a year and as long as no permanent, physical harm is caused! I lived in that country for seven years and that is where I was almost beaten to a pulp. So I get it.

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    1. My man would only get one chance, and he'd better do a good job at it too, because we both know he's gotta sleep sometime, and I'll be waiting. You know what they say - "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

      He wouldn't get to beat me again, that's for sure.

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  17. Fighting for Freedom is now on my reading list. I have to pick it up soon. Your story is fascinating.

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  18. Wow, you book sounds like an amazing read. It must've been very therapeutic for you to write it. Don't worry about not getting to your writing, you are not alone. The manuscript I've been working on has taken a backburner to some other things also. All in good time. Oh and you'll love those VoxBoxes, they rock!

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    1. It was definitely therapeutic. Writing has always been an outlet for me - sometimes it's poems or letters, prayers ... blog posts. Or novels. Writing has probably saved my life, just because it gives me a place to go with all the things I've felt and experienced over the years, all the things I wished I could say but couldn't. It gives me safety and freedom to express anything without shame or guilt or even the need to hold back, because once the writing is done, I still get to choose whether anyone else ever sees it.

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  19. i'm going to have to come back and read more of what you wrote. this sounds very intersting

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  20. I am a victim of child and adult abuse and its a topic that needs to be spoken and written about and I do so openly on my blog this sounds like a great read

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  21. I definitely need to read more of your blog. Life can get so busy it can be hard to keep up sometimes. I think you are doing a great job. And I will also need to look into your book.

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  22. this sounds like something that i really need to check out.

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    1. If you do decide to read it, I'd love to see your feedback! I always read my reviews when they pop up on Amazon, because I like knowing that my readers can help me shape my career.

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  23. While I personally have never been in a physically abusive relationship, I do know a couple of women who have. It is tough to see them suffer. I have tried to step in a time or two, but that sometimes is a mistake. Really, you have to wait until they want to get out themselves before you can really step in and help.

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    1. You're right. You can step in to help, but only when they are ready to really cut ties - the last thing you want is to let the abuser know that you know what's going on BEFORE the victim is ready to leave. Sometimes this will escalate things, and it's heartbreaking that so many people are stuck living in this type of situation.

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  24. Haven't read Fighting for Freedom but it sounds like something I'd enjoy!
    Katja xxx
    www.katnapped.com

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    1. Thank you! If you do, I'd greatly appreciate your feedback in the form of a review!

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  25. Have not read this book but seems like a great one!

    xxKaylie || coffeewithkaylie.com

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  26. I'm sure everything will turn out well. It looks like you've had a pretty busy month. I haven't read the book but I hope it will be one of the books that will help empower women the world over.

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    1. Thank you - that's sort of universal goal for me with all of my books. They're classified as romances but I like to think of them as covert women's empowerment novels. The heroines of my books are my own collection of female superheroes, and I hope that they inspire others as much as they've inspired me.

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  27. Well let me send a you an early Happy Birthday!. I all add this book to my reading list.

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  28. Your survival story will surely help thousands who are afraid. Taking the time for self is always important, it keeps us grounded and mindful. Continue to share Your Journey in Your Words.

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  29. I haven't read this book either. May have to add it to my "to read" list. Thanks!

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